SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane Mayor David Condon has vetoed an ordinance passed by the Spokane City Council that opened the lobby at City Hall to the public during business hours.
The ordinance passed in March after multiple delays by a vote of 5-2. it was first proposed by Councilwoman Kate Burke in Nov. 2018.
Condon vetoed the ordinance on April 11, according to a letter to the council.
"The ordinance is redundant, lacks a fiscal analysis and draws attention away from the community agencies and partnerships in place to provide necessary services to individuals experiencing homelessness," Condon wrote in his letter.
The ordinance allows for people to stay in the City Hall lobby for as long as they want during normal business hours if they don't cause a disruption.
Council members Mike Fagan and Karen Stratton were the two 'no' votes.
Condon said in his letter that City Hall will always be open to the public, making the ordinance redundant.
"City Hall is — and always will be — a facility that is accessible by the public, and we will continue to treat all citizens with dignity and respect when they enter City Hall," Condon wrote.
He also cited the lack of a fiscal note in the ordinance, which violates city policy and practices.
Condon went on to speak about how his administration is "already working to protect our city's vulnerable populations" through housing-focused efforts.
The mayor also said that issues at the Downtown Spokane Public Library raise concerns about opening public spaces for shelter.
"As we have seen with the recent struggles of the Downtown Spokane Public Library, advertising public spaces as a shelter for our vulnerable populations does not create a safe and healthy environment for all users of the space," Condon wrote.
He also went on to cite the recent addition of blue lighting to the library's bathrooms to prevent drug use as indicating that City Hall will need additional safety measures to act as a shelter.
Condon ended his veto by voicing his support of the Joint Administration-Council Strategic Plan.
Councilwoman Kate Burke, who sponsored the ordinance to begin with, said she is already working to schedule an override vote.
She said in a statement, in part: "It isn’t at all surprising to me that the mayor has vetoed an ordinance that concerns our most vulnerable. Many of the ordinances Council passes are vetoed by him."
But in a rare turn of events, that attempted override vote may end up unsuccessful.
When it first passed, everyone but Mike Fagan and Karen Stratton voted yes.
To override a veto, you need five votes. Fagan and Stratton are likely to stay in the no column.
Burke will likely stay yes.
Candice Mumm said she doesn't usually change her vote, but is open to argument. Breann Beggs said he hasn't made up his mind, but also has concerns about redundancy.
Lori Kinnear said she's now changing her mind, citing concerns about redundancy and the impact on city workers. Council President Ben Stuckart is also switching sides, citing similar concerns.
Three nays on an override vote is all you need to uphold the veto. The current count stands at four.